October 29th 2017: Alun Johnson

Alun Johnson - Oct 17

Acts 2:14-41

Acts – the clue is in the title. It’s about the Acts of the Apostles, what the early church leaders did, about the early church being set up and spreading. It’s about Christianity on the march. Is our Christianity on the march today? Do others in the community see us as being insular? Christianity on the march suggests action – getting out there. The early Christians did not consider it an action not to march. Jesus Christ said, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace.” (Acts 18:9).

  • What does a Christianity that is on the march do?

We live in a society that is hostile to Christ and the gospel. How do we march? Acts 2 tells us exactly how. Acts chapter 1 links to the end of the gospels. After Jesus’ ascension the disciples are to be witnesses to the ends of the earth but they stay in Jerusalem. Why? Because they are constantly in prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit. ‘And, while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “You heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”’ (Acts 1:4-5).

Chapter 2 is the Day of Pentecost. 120 disciples were altogether in one place. Here we see the wonderful miracle of tongues of fire and the other wonder of wonders, Galileans speaking in other languages. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. There was a mixed reaction to this. Jews from all known corners of the world were there. Some utterly amazed, others made fun of them, saying they were drunk. It’s here Christianity begins its march.

‘But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.’ (Acts 2:14) Peter stands up. This is a very different Peter we see to the Peter of Matthew 26:74 ‘The he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” It is also a very different group of disciples compared with the disciples in this chapter of Matthew. There has been a dramatic change. This is not a Peter who is terrified of what others think of him. He shows remarkable authority. He is standing up physically and spiritually. He sought out Jews who had been mocking them and says, ‘For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.’ (Acts 2:14). It’s customary for Jews not to drink on the Sabbath or during festivals. They would fast, having not eaten or drunk. It was only 9 a.m.

What has brought about this change in Peter and the other apostles? ‘This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.’ (Acts 2:32). These disciples had seen Jesus being crucified on a Roman cross and being brought back to life three days later. Jesus had beaten death, proving He was really who He said He was. The disciples were transformed by the resurrection of Jesus. We serve a risen Saviour. We trust in Christ who lives forever more. As Christians we are going to be resurrected one day because of what Jesus has done. ‘But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.’ (1 Corinthians 15:20-21). This is also seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:16

These disciple weren’t only able to stand up for Christ in front of hostile Jews, Peter and the other disciples stood because they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). The resurrection and ascension of Jesus meant that His promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit would be fulfilled. Peter stood because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Do we have God in us? Do we crave to be filled by the Holy Spirit in such a way that we can stand for the cause of the cross, whatever the cost?

  • Christianity that is on the march has confidence in the Bible (Acts 2:16-21)

The scriptures prophesied what was seen. Peter quotes Joel, ‘”And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.”’ (Acts 2:17). God’s plan for the world is much bigger than you or I think. It includes not just Jews but Gentiles as well. This would have been a very big deal for the crowd. Peter is showing he has confidence in the Bible. He knows he is part of the purpose and promises of God as prophesied in the Old Testament. They have God on their side. They are living out the very purpose of God. They are part of something huge – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Peter trusts the Bible. Do we have the same trust in the scriptures? Are we confident that the Bible is the inherent word of God and that we are in the Bible? ‘By grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ (Ephesians 2:6). Fantastic! See also John 17:20.

There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ, some in minute detail. Jesus fulfilled everyone to the letter. We need to tell people about them. Do we spend time meditating on it? Does it pepper our conversation? Do we live by it?

  • Christianity on the march makes much of the death, resurrection and reign of Christ (Acts 2:22-36).

Peter talks about the historical Jesus, but he is not merely giving a history lesson. There’s one pronoun repeated time and time again here. ‘You.’ Peter makes it personal to his listeners. He’s telling them ‘You saw Jesus yourselves, you put Him to death. Peter is not being subtle! He means for his listeners to see the horror of what they have done. The death of Jesus is not an awful accident. The key phrase is in verse 23, ‘This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.’ God meant for the death of Jesus to happen. Jesus’ death was purposed by God. Christianity on the march makes much of the death of Jesus Christ; it is God’s answer to the world’s greatest problem – sin. Without sin being forgiven we can never be with God. But, the fantastic thing is sin can be forgiven because God planned for Jesus to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Do we make much of the death of Christ?

Christianity on the march also makes much of the resurrection of Jesus. ‘God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.’ (Acts 2:24). It is plainly obvious that Peter is at pains to prove that the resurrection of Jesus really did happen and it was also prophesied in the scriptures. Christianity is on the march because the resurrection of Jesus really did happen.

Peter also quotes Psalm 110 in which David points prophetically to Jesus’ resurrection, ‘The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ (Psalm 110:1) The climax can be seen in Acts 2:26, ‘Let all the house of Israel therefore known for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Christianity is on the march here because God’s plan goes beyond the resurrection of His Son. Peter answers the question of verse 12, ‘What does this mean?’ by showing that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s own answer to the problem of sin and death.

Jesus ascended and poured out His Holy Spirit. Do we have the same confidence? Do we believe in the reign of Jesus Christ? ‘Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the sun, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:9-10).

  • Christianity is on the march because it tells the world to repent (Acts 2:37-41).

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, convicts His listeners of their sin and need for righteousness. Peter had just called the listeners murderers. They were not offended. By the Holy Spirit they feel the need of an answer, asking “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They know they are in trouble. In order for us to be saved from our sin we need to see our sin and need. The answer is not popular. Our message is the same as Peter’s, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).The people needed to repent. Nobody wants to be told they are wrong, they are sinners. Repentance shows a change of heart. From the mess of our lives we can receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2-38

Do we ache for the lost to be saved? Do we warn people and plead with them? ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ (Acts 2:40).

What is the result? ‘So for those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.’ (Acts 2:41). Isn’t that what we want – 3,000 added to our number this day!

 

October 22nd 2017: Andy Christofides

Andy Christofides-Oct 2017One life, what’s it all about?

For our Mission Sunday morning service Andy spoke on three points about heaven:

Where is heaven?
What’s it like?
What’s the key to the door? How can I be sure of going there?

Where is heaven?
In 2010 55% of people in the UK believed in heaven. 95% of people in South Africa believed in heaven. Belinda Carlisle once sang that ‘heaven is a place on earth.’ It’s not! People tend to believe it’s ‘up there somewhere.’ It’s not so much ‘up there,’ it’s a real location. The Bible explains heaven is the unreached presence of God. Sometimes, a little bit of heaven impinges on earth. The shepherds on the hillside saw and heard an angelic choir as God burst in. Heaven appeared briefly when the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, then disappeared again. There will come a time when the trumpet will sound and His glory will appear. Heaven is the immediate presence of God.

What is heaven like?
In John 14 Jesus Christ speaks a little about heaven, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubles. You believe in God; believe also in me.’ (John 14:1). Trust in God, give Jesus the same amount of trust. When the Apostle Paul thinks of his troubles, he thinks of them as being light and momentary, not worth comparing to eternal glory. Troubles are very real to us but there’s something coming far better for the believer that wipes it all away. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls heaven ‘My Father’s House.’ It’s a lovely phrase. It’s a place where families get together – one dwelling place. We are all together, there are no divisions, we all get along. “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). The King James Version states, “In my Father’s house are many mansion.” It is spacious. All have a place to dwell. It’s a great truth. There are some pretty great mansions on earth with spectacular views, but these are nothing compared to what we will have in heaven.

When Paul writes to the Corinthians he quotes Isaiah, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love Him,” (I Corinthians 2:9). Those who love Him  – that’s the key to entering heaven.

Paul also writes (in the third person, although he is speaking of himself), ‘I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this man … was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’ (2 Corinthians 12:2 &4). Paul had a glimpse of the third heaven – the dwelling place of God. He saw and heard inexpressible things. What will heaven sound like? The sounds of heaven will be far superior to anything we’ve ever heard.

Heaven is a place prepared for us, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). Everything is prepared, nothing will be out of place.

Our body is just a shell. I’m an eternal soul. I’m spirit. My body can move. I’m the bit that thinks, communicates ideas, thoughts and soundwaves. When I die my body goes into the ground but my spirit lives on. When Christ returns I get a new body.

Jesus Christ had a physical resurrected body. He could eat and drink. He could appear and suddenly disappear; at the Ascension He was talking to the disciples then disappeared. So our resurrected bodies will be physical, spiritual bodies, able to move around freely, travelling great distances.

Revelation 21 is highly symbolic of something wonderful. It’s a parallel to Revelation 7:16-17, ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘He will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” We will never again hunger or thirst. Eating and drinking will have no side effects. There will be feasting. There will be no sorrows, no painful memories of things that happened on earth. The judge of all the earth will have done right. There will be no sin in heaven.

Isaac Watts writes,

Sin, my worst enemy before,
Shall vex my eyes and ears no more;
MY inward foes shall all be slain,
Nor Satan break my peace again.

Heaven will have mansions of glory and endless delight. Heaven’s gates are always open and light always shines. Heaven is home. It’s there we will be satisfied.

How do we get there?
Thomas asked Jesus “How can we know the way?” To which He replied, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

‘I am’ is ego-centric. Too many people make the fundamental mistake of wanting to reform their own lives. It won’t get you to heaven. Going to church is very good, something you should do – but it won’t get you to heaven. Even going twice to church, attending mid-week meetings, reading the Bible and praying is all great – but it won’t get you to heaven. In every other religion it’s what you have to do. Even in some churches! There are some parents who believe that because they are Christened they will go to heaven. Or they may think that because they have family who believe they are Christians so this gives them access to heaven. Some say they believe in God – even demons believe in God – and tremble!

Jesus is the one who gets you to heaven. He is the door, the gate to the sheepfold. It’s not what you do that gets you to heaven. If you want to get to heaven, it happens through Jesus Christ, He is the only way. He is the only one who has dealt with the problem – sin. Our concern ought primarily to be God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). Love God. He is your creator.

When things go wrong people shake their fists at God and blame Him. Yet when things go right it’s all ‘me’. God sent His Son Jesus, the second person of the Triune God, to deal with sin. Why? So we can go to heaven. Why? Because He loves us. God sent Jesus to earth. He lived a perfect life. He met God’s demands. He’s our representative. He went to Calvary, laid down His life. Isaiah foresaw this 700 years earlier, ‘But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:5). When Jesus went to Calvary He took on Hell. It’s love. ‘But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8). He died the death for us. Because He did nothing wrong, death is conquered.

Jesus Christ is the only one who has dealt with the problem. All I need to do is rest in His finished work.

Will you be there? If you are not sure, why not? The door is wide open. Faith implies repentance, repentance implies faith. The good news is God wants us in heaven. What do you want for eternity?

OCTOBER MISSION 2017

In October we will be holding our first Mission Weekend – Friday 20th October  – Sunday 22nd October, yay! 🎉 

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On Friday 20th October we will be welcoming Annmarie Miles (http://www.annmariemiles.com/) , an Irish Author and Speaker to our Ladies’ Curry Evening . This is a great opportunity to learn about the Christian life through Annmarie’s testimony – ‘This is my story. This is my Song’

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You are warmly invited to our Penuel Men’s Breakfast. It is a great opportunity to come and learn more about the Christian faith and get to know the members of Penuel.Our Guest Speaker is Stuart Dainty, Farmer & Pastor of Libanus Evangelical church, Swansea. Cooked & Continental Breakfast provided. A warm welcome awaits!
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On Saturday afternoon we are so looking forward to families from the local community joining us for our Family Fun Afternoon  As well as a beautiful park to play in, there will be a bouncy castle, face painting by the talented Gabrielle Swales Face Painting Artist​, crafts,  balloons,🎈 a Bible story by guest speaker Andrew Christofides​ and an amazing football cage kindly loaned to us by Scripture Union Cymru​.🥅 Enjoy a sizzling BBQ and chat over a cup of tea. Come along and join in the fun! A warm welcome awaits! 🎊🎉

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Contact The Elderly – 3rd June 2017

We had a glorious sunshine afternoon when we held our first Contact the Elderly UK tea yesterday. One guest commented, “I’ve been to the Ritz for tea and this was better!” It was wonderful to be joined by senior citizens from the community. Thanks to all the helpers – drivers, bakers, hosts … you were wonderful. We are all looking forward to the next one. 🙂

October 15th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian March 26th 2017I John 3 ‘Blessed Assurance.’

Assurance of love is essential. Our Heavenly Father needs to discipline us for our good that we might share in His holiness and be assured of His great love for us. ‘See what kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is it did not know him.’ (I John 3:1). God wants His children to feel His arms of love around them.

I john 3-1

– An important question to ask: Am I a Christian?
– Vital love
– A central perspective.

An important question to ask: Am I a Christian?

The enemy of our souls tries to drive a wedge between us and God. The devil’s work and our conscience can condemn us as we compare ourselves with to others and to the Word. It is right we compare ourselves to God’s standards. It is right we love others but this can be hard. We may have difficulty praying for others.

For many the question ‘Am I a Christian?’ may seem ridiculous. They may answer, ‘Of course!’ It’s a vital question to ask. Be careful how we ask and answer it. We also need to meet it head on.

The creator God is here, we proclaim, as a church. There is one true God, all powerful, who created everything and is intimately involved. Why is it then that there is so much suffering? Why do so many people feel disconnected from God – not basking in the wonder of who He is? Why do we not always feel Christian? Perhaps we should ask ourselves what is a Christian? A Christian is a child of God. It is not someone who is generally good or goes to church. A Christian is a child of God, therefore it is someone who can call upon Him as ‘My Father.’

From the New Testament we know that a Christian is someone who is in Christ, someone who has entered into a wonderful, mysterious union into Jesus, clothed with Christ. We are intimately united with Christ. Faith has brought us into Christ.

People can be:

  • Unsaved and know they are not in Christ and are not bothered about this. They will be in Hell.
  • Be saved but not know they are saved. May be they don’t experience it all the time.
  • Be saved and know they are children of God. This is blessed assurance.
  • Not be saved but they seem to believe they are. This is false assurance. We do not want people to think they are going to heaven when they are trusting in themselves rather than Jesus.

In response to the question, ‘Am I a Christian?’ if I am I know I have the love of God in me, I am a child of God. To help you and encourage you there is to be a love in the heart of the believer. ‘By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.’ I John 3: 19). 

I John 3-18

‘By this’ refers to the previous verse, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.’ (I John 3:18). There is to be this love in a Christian. It is defined in terms of direction:

  • It is not love towards cars, jobs, wives, husbands or me. Here is the grace of God displayed – it is love directed towards Jesus Christ, a love towards the person of Jesus. God sent His Son to live a righteous life on our behalf. When Christ willingly hung on the cross and suffered in agony He was thinking of you. Therefore, it’s Jesus we love because of what He did for us. Now we can put our trust in Him and now we can love Him. My love is not what it ought to be. The key thing Peter was assured of was that even when he failed, he could still say he loved Jesus. No matter how great our failings, we can still say we love Him.
  • There is a love for righteousness.
  • There is a love towards other Christians – not just certain Christians, a love for all of them. It’s testimony to God’s saving grace we can say we love the church.

Central Perspective: We must be convinced of God’s great goodness. ‘For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.’ (I John 3:20). We are assured of God’s great love towards us. It is not based on my love, my understanding or my feelings. Whenever our conscience condemns us, when the devil condemns, we turn to the greatness of God. Our hearts condemn us but God is greater. He knows all things. Don’t put your trust in yourself, trust in Him. Listen to what He says about you. He is always aware of us, where we are, what we feel, our thoughts. But He also knows we are His. He sent His only Son to die for you, to clothe you in righteousness. Be assured, God is greater than our hearts. Are you able to say, ‘Yes, I love Jesus?’ Be confident in Him.

 

Children’s Club – 13th October 2017

 

Tonight at our Children’s Club we watched an animation of Samuel anointing King David 👑 God didn’t choose one of his older, stronger brothers but the younger son. We learnt that God looks at people’s hearts not their outward appearance 

We look forward to next Friday when we will be baking cupcakes for our Family Fun Afternoon at Victoria Hall on Saturday 21st October, when the children and their friends will be able to decorate the cakes they made the night before🍦🎉🎈

October 8th 2017: Dave Evans

Dave Evans-Oct 17Mark 14:32-42

When going through a difficult time, some people may say they are experiencing their own ‘personal Gethsemane.’ The truth is, we are treading on holy ground – a unique experience. Only the Saviour ever experienced Gethsemane. Thousands shared the experience of crucifixion, the intense physical suffering. But what no film, no description can truly convey is the suffering our Saviour endured in those hours of darkness. There is nothing like it recorded in human history. We can learn something of the mystery of our Saviour’s experience through the Holy Spirit.

If we look at the setting, our Saviour is coming to the end of three years of ministry. Judas has left the upper room.The Saviour and the remaining disciples go across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus then left most of the disciples at the gate whilst He, Peter, James and John entered the garden. We then have a sudden change, ‘He began to be troubled and distressed.’ (Mark 14:33). We are given a glimpse into our Saviour’s soul – the human Jesus expresses His deep concern to His disciples, ‘Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”’ (Mark 14:34). On every side our Saviour is shut in by distress of soul. He has anguish of soul. The three disciples must have been amazed at what was happening after seeing His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. Here, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Incarnate Son of God is now bowed down in deep distress. You almost feel things can’t be any more heart-rendering than they are. But then ‘He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.’ (Mark 14:35). After only a few steps it seems He is crushed to the ground, pressed into the dust. This anguish lays hold of the whole being of Christ.

What is happening? Why is this experience laying hold of the Saviour? Turn to the Saviour’s prayer in verses 35-36, ‘And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”’ (Mark 14:36). Jesus prayed if it were possible the hour might pass from Him. It’s surely at this point we try to enter into the mystery of the hour. It’s clearly a reference to His death. Jesus always knew He was coming to die for His people. Now He prays to the Father asking for release. What is going on here? His depth of agony doesn’t leave any space for pretence. Does it show an element of weakness? Is He weakening when others have stood firm and given their lives for the gospel? No! He did not fail. As Judas and the authorities came He left willingly. The intense agony of Gethsemane can be explained as we consider verse 36. Jesus prays this prayer which had so much meaning for every Jew. ‘Take this cup away from Me.’ The picture of the cup can refer to joy, ‘I will take up the cup of salvation,’ (Psalm 116:13). But more often, it’s a symbol of judgement and of God’s wrath against sin (Isaiah 51:7, Jeremiah 25). Also in the New Testament, Revelation 14 speaks of the ‘cup of His indignation.’ Here lies, surely, the explanation for the Incarnate God lying crushed in the Garden. He begins to experience the sufferings He alone could endure on the cross. The two thieve endured the physical suffering. What we could not see on the cross we see here – how awful sin is. Our Saviour here looked at the sin which He was to bear on the cross for others, He saw it in its deformity. He sees the wrath of God. His holy soul recoils. That’s what the Saviour experienced here in Gethsemane. He began to experience the cup of wrath, the separation of fellowship with His Father. He begins to experience Hell that He will experience on the cross. He begins to see Hell as His companion as others desert Him. He begins to experience the full horror. So He prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”’ (Mark 14:36). But He receives no answer. Heaven is silent. If He didn’t go to Calvary then the cup of wrath would have been drunk by all of mankind. The debt was so great only God could pay it. The life of this one man was so precious it was able to pay the debt. The cup must be drunk to its last drop. Jesus began to experience the eternal sufferings of His people if no-one had died in their place.

The wonder of the experience is having prayed that the cup might be taken away, He goes on to say, ‘Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’ (Mark 14:36). Jesus came in to the full eternal agreement with the Father. Hebrews declares He learned obedience by the things He suffered. He proved His absolute obedience. Our Lord’s prayers were heard, even though heaven was silent. The Father heard in heaven His Son’s prayers. In three days’ time He answered Him gloriously and raised Him from the dead, triumphant. Now we can sing,

Up from the grave He arose;
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

The glory of the gospel is that faith in Christ brings us to a God of peace, a God of grace in this life and the glory to come. Christ delivers the way, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6). We have a great encouragement here, we have a Saviour who knows what it is to go through life’s darkest experiences. Death is conquered and is but a step to glory. Come in repentance, seek Him. You have a Saviour who has died for you.

October 1st 2017: Mike Viccary

Mike Viccary - Oct 2017

Isaiah 27:1

‘In that day the LORD with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; And he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.’ (Isaiah 27:1).

‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.’ C.S. Lewis.

‘In that day.’ This phrase is frequent in Old Testament prophets. We hear it four times in Isaiah 27. In verse 1 it speaks of punishment, in verse 2 it refers to the song of the vineyard, in verse 12 it refers to a great gathering (the return from exile) and in verse 13 it is associated with the great trumpet. The phrase ‘In that day’ often refers to both Christ’s first and second coming. Here, the chief emphasis from these verses refers to the second coming.

Looking at our text in Isaiah 27:1, it gives two characters: the Lord with his sword, Leviathan – the dragon serpent.

We shall look at the verse under three headings:

  1. Leviathan defeated and judged
  2. By the sword of the Lord
  3. Application

1.Leviathan defeated and judged:

We shall consider:

  • Identity – who is Leviathan?
  • Character – what is he like?
  • Destiny – what will happen to him?

(a) Identity: who is Leviathan?
He is not a chaos monster of any myth. He is described as being wreathed, twisted in flesh, a serpent – the serpent who deceived Eve in Genesis 3:1. He is also described as a dragon (reptile in the sea). In Revelation 12:3 we read of the ‘great fiery red dragon with 7 heads.’ Compare this with psalm 74:13. In Job 41 he is described as a ‘vast sea creature.’ Leviathan is Satan, the Devil.

(b) Character: What do we learn of this creature?
He has four features:

  • He is vast (Job 4:1). You cannot defeat or tame him on your own. Perhaps Job was a little too self-sufficient? Job 1 starts with Satan attacking Job and Job 41 has God telling Job that he could not defeat Leviathan. A.W. Tozer states, ‘I’m not afraid of the devil. The devil can handle me – he’s got judo I never heard of. But he can’t handle the One to whom I’m joined; he can’t handle the one to whom I’m united. He can’t handle the One whose nature dwells in my nature.’
  • The devil is a fugitive, a fleeing serpent. The idea of a fugitive suggests homeless, restless, roaming, cast out. We see this picture in Job 1 and in reference to Satan being cast out of heaven (Revelation 12.9). He is not at peace but a restless, roaming rogue – a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Having rejected God, rebelled and intent on setting himself up in opposition to God, he has found that he is like a fugitive with no place to rest.

‘The devil is no idle spirit, but a vagrant runagate walked that never rests in one place. The motive, cause and main intention of his walking is to ruin man.’ Thomas Adams.

  • The devil is a twisted serpent. He is a deceitful thief, subtle, cunning, proud, accusing, tempting, a liar and murderer. In contrast, Christ is upright, the Lord our righteousness, He is truth and light.
  • The dragon in the sea. The statement of Isaiah 27:1 is very clearly linked to the description of Satan in Revelation 12 and 13 – the dragon who is in the sea is Leviathan. This is complex. The imagery is very important. In Revelation we read that the sea represents all the people in the world. I John 5:19 tells us that the world lies in the sway of the wicked one.
  • Destiny: What will become of Leviathan?
    We come back to Isaiah 27:1. This creature will be punished and will be killed. He will be held to account so that judgement can be carried out. He will be killed, cast into the lake of fire and separated finally from the goodness of God. He will have no more power, influence or effect (Revelation 20:10).

  1. By the sword of the Lord.

This is a theme that runs throughout scripture.
First, a flaming sword was guarding the way back in Eden after Adam and Eve were ejected (Genesis 3:24). It was protecting divine things.

Secondly, there are a variety of places where the pre-incarnate Christ appears with a drawn sword (theophany, Christophany): Numbers 22:23 (Balaam / donkey), Joshua 5:13 (Joshua outside Jericho). In all these instances God is protecting truth and attacking anything which would ruin divine truth

Thirdly, we have texts which indicate God’s stated enmity against all evil, sin and wickedness – pictured as swords and fighting. Deuteronomy 32:39-42. God will kill and has a sword to reek vengeance on His enemies and which will devour flesh. Compare with Ezekiel 21, especially verses 14-16.

Fourthly, in contrast to these images which portray judgement in graphic, we have statements connecting the sword with the Word: Isaiah 49:2 He has made my mouth like a sharp sword, Revelation 1:16, ‘Out of the mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (c/f Revelation 2:12, 16). Hebrews 4:12, The Word is a two-edged sword. Ephesians 6:17, the sword of spirit, the Word of God.

I do not think we realise how powerful God’s Word truly is!

Fifth, we read of a clear connection between God’s sword and man’s action. Judges 7:18 & 20.

Sixth, we read wonderfully of the Lord being our sword. He is not just a shield but a sword for us. Deuteronomy 33:29, ‘Who is like you [Israel] a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty.’

Seventh: The sword of the Lord is against sin, of unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). But listen to these words:  “Awake o sword against my Shepherd, against the man who is my companion,” says the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7) He has experienced the sword on our behalf. God enacts vengeance by the Word of God.

Let us look then at the text. The sword is described in 3 ways:

Severe (NIV – ‘fierce’). It is unrelenting. It will not stop and it will not be short, it will reach to every act of wrongdoing.
Great. Infinite. There is nowhere where this sword cannot reach.

Strong (NIV ‘powerful’). It is able to meet any opposition. Only God’s sword can defeat Behemoth (and Leviathan). Job 40:19 – only the one who made the creature can do so.

All sin, all wrongdoing, all evil, all rebellion – all will be judged and ‘executed’ by this sword.

According to works we shall be judged! Revelation 20, 17, 13.

Who can escape the sword?

Thanks be to Jesus Christ who has taken the sword for us (Zechariah 13:7) and who has worked well.

There are only two options – obey or rebel. Isaiah 1: 18-20 2Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord . . .”If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel you shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. We should much rather allow the surgical knife and scalpel of God’s Word cut us and charge us than that the sword of God’s vengeance against us and rebellion devour us.

With regard to Leviathan, the dragon’s serpent, the proud rebel wandering this earth, there is nothing left but destruction.

  1. Application:

(a) You cannot fight Satan alone – this is where Job failed (perhaps). You need God, His Word and chiefly dependence upon Him in prayer. Samuel Chadwick writes, ‘Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisom, but he trembles when we pray.’

Corrie Ten Boom wrote, ‘When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians the devil rules. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.’

(b) Remember where you are – we are in this world where we will experience tribulation. It is the realm of the enemy’s ‘rule’ or influence for the whole world under lies under the sway of the wicked one. From this we need to remind ourselves that we are:

– Citizens of heaven translated from darkness into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13).

– ambassadors for Christ in enemy territory.
– In a fight and war.

(c) Remind yourself that Satan is a fugitive defeated and on death row. He may be reeking havoc and destruction but he cannot operate outside of the sovereignty of God (Job 1).

(d) Have Christ always in view. Meditate on Him and His beauty. The world takes on board the twisted and evil nature of Satan and so we need to good antidote to the effects of the world – feast on Christ.

(e) Do not underestimate the power of God’s Word. Combine this with much prayer. There are 2 equally disastrous attitudes people adopt – either prayer and no study or study and no prayer. We need both.

(f) Some ‘pointers. ‘Draw near to God, resist Satan and he will flee from you (James 4:8)

Appeal to the Word of God.
Flee (worldliness), follow (right, godliness), fight (keep hold of life). 1 Timothy 6:11.

 

September 28th 2017: Harvest Service – Andy Millership

Ruth 3

Boaz was a farmer, a straight forward man. This passage refers to him as a kinsman redeemer. What does it mean? A kinsman is a relative. In the culture of the time there was a provision from God for His people; God instructed His people that if a woman lost her husband and had no son to look after her, a relative had this responsibility – making sure the inheritance was carried on. There was always someone there.

Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, had lost her husband and two sons. Ruth, her daughter-in-law, had decided to stay with Naomi and offer the support she could give. Ruth’s husband has also died. Not only was one widow looking for someone to take care of her, but two widows sought help. Naomi thought of Boaz for Ruth. There may have been others, but Boaz was first to come to her mind. In chapter 2 Boaz helps Ruth out. Ruth worked her way around the edge of the harvest field. Boaz told his workers to let her have more.

Naomi has decided that Boaz is the man who needs to take on the responsibility of being a husband for Ruth. She tells Ruth to go to the threshing floor, to be sensible and virtuous. Ruth does as she is told, letting Boaz be her kinsman redeemer. Naomi’s plans are carried through when they marry.

What qualities did Boaz need to be a kinsman redeemer?

  1. He had to be related by blood to those people he would redeem. In verse 2 we are told he was a member of the family.
  2. He had to be able to pay the price of redemption. Boaz wasn’t short of a few bob, he was quite well off. He had a number of fields and could afford to look after them
  3. He had to be willing to redeem her. We read in verse 11 that he was willing. There were people younger and more qualified than him but he was willing.
  4. He had to be free himself. He couldn’t be in the service of another man. He had his own place, with his own workers. He more than made the grade. Naomi was right – what an ideal man he was!

What has this to do with us? Why are we here? To praise God for His provision, to worship Him. Anything more? More than anything it’s the desire and prayer of many people that each one here would come to know what it is that is so wonderful about our Saviour Jesus Christ. We need Him. Without Him anyone who stands alone is in a terrible, vulnerable, hopeless situation. Some may be insulted by this. It’s not an insult – it’s the truth. Even if you feel it’s OK to be in church, or you’re a kind, good, friendly person who does wonderful things – it’s not enough. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All. Every single one of us gathered here. Every single person who has ever drawn breath, bar one, has sinned. We have offended God who is just and holy because we are not yet pure and holy. God demands a price. It is not one we can afford. There is nothing we can do that will pay that price. We need someone who can step into the breach – a kinsman redeemer who can take responsibility for us. There is only the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

  1. If He is to be our kinsman Redeemer he has to be related by blood to those He will redeem. What an awesome thing that is! He stood at the beginning and every thing that has been made came from Him. It’s an unimaginable thing that He should set aside His majesty so He could redeem us. He became like us. What humiliation – to take on a frail, weak body so He could be one of us, part of our family. He made the necessary sacrifice.
  2. He had to live His life on this earth as a man, suffering. He had to live without one slip. Because of His perfection, His sacrifice met the price of our redemption. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet He was without sin. How often do we sin? How long is there between our sins? All of His life Jesus was without sin. Every moment of every day, when the Pharisees were looking to trip Him up, not once did He do anything wrong.
  3. Amazingly, He had to be willing to redeem. If you think you’re not for God, then you’re against Him. If you don’t accept everything about God then you are His enemy. Yet Christ was willing to redeem. How could that ever be? Jesus Christ laid down His life for His enemies. Amazing! He died so willingly for me and for you.
  4. He had to be free Himself. He was all His life, ‘Yet without sin.’ Perfect. He was the perfect sacrifice. Even though He died, He rose again. Death can’t keep Him, He’s perfect. He can’t be kept in the grave.

He met all the criteria as our kinsman redeemer. It points to a life-changing reality. Boaz was the ideal kinsman redeemer for Ruth. Ruth knew this. She had had to ask Boaz to take responsibility for her. She asked him to redeem her. Do we recognise our need? Without Jesus we can’t be saved. You have to go to Him and ask Him for forgiveness. Think of what He has done for you – given up the glory of heaven and born as a weak, feeble human being, suffering alone. Then He went to the cross and was killed for you. If you go to Him He will never turn you down – He is our perfect kinsman redeemer. Ask Him to save you. He will say yes. Then you will know what it is to be cared for by one who loves you.

Children’s Club – 6th October 2017

In tonight’s busy Children’s Club we watched the story of Joshua and learnt that God is always with us 😃 We had a great time using the shakers as we sang before having a quiet time of prayer 🎵🙏 The children created houses with a memory verse then had a fun time playing outdoor games and collecting apples from the orchard 🏚️🤸‍♀️🍏 We were blessed to be joined by new faces, including dads and a very well-behaved dog👨‍👦‍👦 🐕